Initially I ignored the e-mail from Borders that proclaimed “Free Romance eBooks — TWO DAYS ONLY!” But for whatever reason I opened the message last night and was informed that I could, for absolutely no investment on my part aside from downloading the Borders eReader for my iPhone, have my very own copy of a romance novel entitled Long Hard Ride.
Friends, I literally laughed out loud. In my world, that’s not a book, that’s a punchline in a bad sitcom.
So I investigated. Along with Long Hard Ride (which, as you might have surmised, is about three cowboys who all want the same cowgirl), Borders was offering quality titles such as Sin’s Daughter, Rapture’s Temptress, and my personal favorite, Trey: Red, Hot and Blue (let me guess — he’s a sunburned, ripped and moody Republican who will tame the gorgeous but misguided liberal Democrat who comes to town campaigning for her boyfriend, the married candidate who makes her unhappy, takes her for granted and is more passionate about gun control than about her?).
I couldn’t resist. Not because I had any overwhelming desire to read a bodice ripper — no, I wanted to mock one.
Please don’t misunderstand me: there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with writing or reading romances. Fiction is, after all, supposed to be our chance to see the world through different eyes, and a Victorian duchess or a lusty cowgirl would certainly have a perspective different from my own.
However, I don’t typically have patience with the formulaic plots, shallow characterization, and intense descriptions of people’s soulful eyes, rippling pecs and cascades of hair that are the hallmarks of romance novels. I, as you can tell by the few posts I’ve shared here, am particular about what I read to the point of being labeled by most as unforgivably picky.
Yet I downloaded a book called Distracting the Duchess, a classy tale about a young rich widow in Victorian England who mistakes a spy for the Queen as her latest nude model. (Oh, that old story again.)
So why Distracting the Duchess? Because it was free with no strings attached, where Trey: Red, Hot and Blue wanted my credit card number even though it claimed to be free. (So, the first chapter is free, then it’s $0.99/page after that?) Because it was different than John Quincy Adams and all the other books I’ve read lately. Because I had to figure out what was going to happen in a book that featured a woman named Artemisia and a man named Beddington. (Even I couldn’t make this up, people!) And because the chance to read it and laugh was just too good of an opportunity to pass by.
Stay tuned on this one. Who needs presidential biographies when one has duchesses on the loose?